Miner Webster was the first this year to turn a page in the history books of high school basketball in Arizona.
In late November, the girls’ head coach at Highland High School in Gilbert posted a 54-32 win over Desert Vista High that brought his career total wins to 779.
That victory also made the local coaching legend, who just wrapped up his 29th year on the bench, the state’s all-time leader in career wins for girls’ basketball.
Then, in January, a couple of the boys’ basketball coaches notched important wins in their long careers coaching high school.
On Jan. 3, Bob Fredericks reached win No. 700 by beating Bourgade Catholic, 87-40, and was honored by the students at Scottsdale Christian Academy who had prepared a trophy to honor the occasion.
But the trophy presentation was delayed for awhile. The Eagles hit a dry spell in mid-December and went five games without a win. But the Bourgade victory put them back on track and they went on a five-game winning streak, eventually closing out the season 17-9 and advancing all the way to the state championship game before losing to Gilbert Christian.
It would be a good bet to say that Fredericks would rather have that state title than the trophy for No. 700. The title is for the kids.
Even more astounding, perhaps, than the attainment of either trophy is the fact that Fredericks has been coaching at SCA for 32 years.
Less than two weeks later, another major career milestone fell – and once again it was by a coach who has been loyal to the same school while collecting the wins necessary to achieve it.
Rick McConnell, who has been at Mesa’s Dobson High School since 1984, recorded his 600th victory – all at Dobson – with a dramatic one-point win over Skyline High School, another Mesa school.
That win, too, didn’t come without some anxious waiting. Dobson had lost the previous four games.
McConnell’s father, Dick, was also one of the most successful prep coaches in state history. In 2008, he set a state record of 774 wins that stood until five years ago when Gary Ernst, who is currently coaching at Mountain View High School (another Mesa power), broke it.
Unlike Fredericks, Rick McConnell didn’t get a trophy after beating Skyline. He said hardly anybody was aware of the number.
Maybe his trophy is coming when he hits No. 700.